Thomson defenders Casper Brinkley (bottom) Marcus McDord (middle) and Dexter Crawford, bring down Thomas County quarterback Erik Walden during Friday's Class AAAA football championship.
Photo by Michael HolahanTHOMSON - Bill Reese really doesn't mind being the bride, especially if the dress is black and gold.
"I've been to the alter three time before and I've come back a bridesmaid," he said a couple of hours before the Thomson-Thomas County Central game started. "I'm ready to be a bride."
Thomson High School's principal has been this close to championship rings before: twice as a high school player, once in college.
He'd spent the last week getting his school, staff and stadium ready. At game time Friday night, all he could do was watch.
"It's like a Clydesdale has his hoof right here," said retired Thomson High School Principal Bob Smith, motioning toward his chest as he sat next to his successor in the press box.
Then, in just a few hours, it was over. And Reese was too tired to sleep, to excited to try.
But it was worth it - he had a state championship.
"I'm on top of the world," he said, standing on the large "T" dyed into the field at the Brickyard. In the background fireworks exploded, players hugged and Head Coach Luther Welsh smiled as he clutched the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA trophy. "This is a dream come true for the school, the community and the kids."
Thomson quarterback Deon Palmer greets fans after the win.
Photo by Michael Holahan
In the stands, Thomson's biggest fan - all 3 feet of him - cheered, jumped and squealed. Davey Lloyd's can tell you the name of each of the players who's numbers are on the back of his bright yellow sweatshirt.
"He knows every one of them," said Davey's "Poppa," Cecil Poss. "After the game, on the field, (the players) will look for him. They all know him."
Thomson's championship game was bittersweet for "Poppa." After 21 years, he called his last game as public address announcer.
"The only thing that would be better than calling the game would be calling a win," he said, smiling - just minutes before the game started.
He got his wish, and after the fireworks had ended, he was on the field, hollering at players and celebrating.
Thomson head football coach Luther Welsh greets well-wishers as McDuffy County Campus Police Officer Lorenzo Heggs shows of the state championship trophy.
Photo by Michael Holahan
"I held my emotions in check," he said after stepping away from the microphone. "I am struggling a little bit, but I'll be all right."
Toombs Judicial District Attorney Dennis Sanders - the voice of the Dogs on radio station WTHO-FM - also had a little trouble with emotions. As he signed off for the final time this season, he apologized for sometimes getting too exciting, too wrapped up in Thomson's success to call plays.
"I'm a fan," he said. "It's hard not be a fan of this Thomson team."
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